I like the smooth, fluid sound of memories.
They come in floods with the keys dancing in different houses and for various events. She prefers her Kawai, but can make any piano her own as soon as she sits down on the cool, black leather bench and plays the first note.
She plays with her back to us in the family room of house number one as Dominik and I disassemble the couch and turn it into a boat. Couch cushions hit the carpet, outlining the path we must take to avoid the lava, and the dust-buster becomes our motor. The rustling overpowers her playing and she gives in, leaving us to prepare lunch before we have to walk back to school.
She plays with her back to the stairs in our second house as I sit on the computer in the room adjacent to the piano. She whips out book after book, flipping through pages upon pages before landing on a piece by Yanni, a favorite of hers, and begins to play. Our chunky, gray cat joins her on the bench, disrupting her rhythm and begs to be petted.
I leave the computer and flip through books myself, hauling out the big binder of everything Disney so she can play something I like. I switch out her books for mine and she gives into the cat while I page to the sections I want her to play.
She plays songs from Mulan, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin before calling it quits to finish the laundry. I take her spot when the cat gives it up to follow her and sit on the cool leather, placing my hands above the keys. I can play “When the Saints Go Marching In” like nobody’s business. I want to be able to play like her though, so flawless and perfect.
That summer I learned the theme songs to The Brady Bunch and The Adam’s Family before calling it quits because I had to add my less dominant left hand.
She plays with her back to the lake on the carpeted basement floor of our newest home. This is most likely where you will find her after a hard day’s work or on a break from sewing a new quilt, while our chocolate lab lies happily across her pieced-together handiwork. Lorie Line fills the empty space as she moves her hands gracefully over the keys, her feet sliding from the first pedal to the second and then back again. She never misses a note.
I switch out the music again, causing her to stop mid-song. She starts right back up again with the pieces I have chosen, and this time I sing along.
On the day’s where I miss her playing I plug one ear bud into my left ear and one ear bud into my right ear and listen to the familiar sound of her fingers on the egg-shell white keys of the Kawai through renditions of the pieces I know best by Yanni and Lorie Line. I walk to class silently listening and let the memories flow, knowing just the right moments where she would have to speed up her hands or switch the order of the pedals under her feet.
My hand hangs just slightly in the air, my fingers dancing like I know what keys to play and I imagine I can, just like my mother.